Get active and invest in your future
A sedentary lifestyle is a major risk factor for health these days.
Until a few decades ago, most of us exercised as part of our daily routine (farming, housework, walking everywhere, manual labour etc).
Sedentary behaviours pose many problems; some of them more obvious than others. A sedentary lifestyle is associated with numerous chronic diseases - from diabetes, blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis and gallstones to colon and breast cancer.
Inactivity also doubles the risk of obesity and increases the chances of developing anxiety and depression.
The Healthy Ireland recommendation is that Adults are active for at least 30 minutes a day of 'moderate activity' 5 days a week (or 150 minutes a week). For young people, the recommendation is an hour a day.
To sustain exercise throughout our lives, it is important to make it part of our regular routine. When you look at the habits of those that live long and healthy lives, the healthiest centenarians, they integrate exercise naturally into their daily lives through gardening, walking to work or regular walks, household activities etc.
From my own experience the most important thing is do something you enjoy. It should be fun and feel meaningful. If we are only doing things out of discipline, they don't last.
We all have different personalities and things we love to do. Some love the gym. Some love yoga or Tai Chi. Some love to walk, run or cycle. Some love to swim. Some love to walk in forests or hills. Some love to dance. Some love to do solitary things and some love exercise to be social too.
As well as the more obvious health costs of physical inactivity, there are significant social and economic costs which are often overlooked regarding sedentary habits. Inactive children are more vulnerable to having poorer self- esteem, and higher anxiety and stress levels. In Ireland, they are also more likely to use alcohol and illegal drugs and smoke.
Working adults that are inactive have double the number of days of absenteeism from work compared with employees who are physically active. In later life, inactive people more easily lose basic strength and flexibility and ultimately are quicker to lose independence. They also suffer from poorer mental health.
If you want to get more active, have a look at your own lifestyle and see how you can best do this. The most successful exercise regimes are those that are an integral part of daily life. And if exercise is fun, you are more likely to continue.
Dancing is one form of exercise that is becoming increasingly popular. I have a number of friends that love dancing and it is easy to see why. It is a fun way to exercise and connect with others. It makes you feel great. Like meditation, it builds connection and focus.
If you aren't drawn by dancing, go for a walk, go for a hike, try yoga. Play football with your friends and or kids.. There are so many possibilities. Take the stairs at work. Park 10 minutes from where you are going. Take a walk at lunch time. The list goes on. And if you are planning a class, make sure it is something that you enjoy If you are not sure, keep trying until you find what you love.
Get out and get active. It is not only an investment in your future. It will also make you happier, healthier and more productive today. Wishing you an active week!